Ceramics and glass business news this week | The American Ceramic Society

Ceramics and glass business news this week

Swedish company producing low-cost aerogel pellets. Credit Svenska Aerogel.

Here’s what we are hearing:

NASA gives Ceralink SBIR award for microwave-processed multifunctional polymer matrix composites

Ceralink Inc. announced that it has been selected for a $100,000 SBIR Phase I award from NASA to develop high performance polymer matrix composites (PMCs) at lower cost using microwave technology. NASA has identified PMCs as a critical need for launch and in-space vehicles, but use is currently limited by the significant cost of such materials. Ceralink’s Phase I research program will explore lower cost PMCs through the development of discontinuous fiber reinforced polymer composites with an in-situ grown, carbon nanotube 3-D network.

Trek introduces new high-voltage amplifier electro-optic, MEMS, piezoelectric and semiconductor applications

Trek Inc., a designer and manufacturer of high-voltage power amplifiers and high-performance electrostatic instrumentation, announces a new amplifier. The bandwidth of Model PZD700A, for both large signal and small signal levels, in combination with Trek’s technology for precise control of output voltages, enable the amplifier to address the specific need for high speed and fast settling when driving capacitive loads in electro-optics, MEMS, piezoelectric driving/control, semiconductor research and other demanding applications such as laser modulation, ion beam control and vibration damping.

Seymour Ventures invests in organic rare-earths processing technology; adds leading solvent-extraction expert to advisory board

Seymour Ventures Corp.’s subsidiary of Rare Earth Industries Ltd., announced that it has invested in developing environmentally-sensitive methods of solvent extraction for processing of rare earths. In addition, the company has added Shyama (Sam) P. Sinha to REI’s advisory board to further its goal of becoming a low-cost processor of rare earths and rare metals. Sinha uses environmentally-friendly methods to process and separate rare-earth elements from one another. This approach is different from the global industry standard use of hydrochloric acid or nitric acid.

Judge clears Vitro SAB to sell U.S. units to Sun Capital

Mexican glass maker Vitro SAB received bankruptcy-court approval to sell four of its U.S. units to an affiliate of private-equity firm Sun Capital Partners Inc. for $55.1 million. Sun Capital has said it intends to integrate the U.S. subsidiaries of Mexico’s largest glassmaker to a similar company in its portfolio, Arch Aluminum & Glass LLC. The assets Sun is acquiring are Vitro America, a Memphis, Tenn., company that makes, distributes and installs replacement glass for vehicles and buildings, Super Sky Products Inc. and two related entities.

Siemens and the North Carolina Solar Center announce Solar Exchange East

Siemens recently announced the dates for Solar Exchange East, which will be held in conjunction with the North Carolina Solar Center, Sept. 21, 2011 on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. Solar Exchange East, designed for manufacturers and developers of solar power, will include topics, such as advancing clean energy for a sustainable economy, solar tracking and thin film technology, financing in the solar power industry and advances in solar satellite development.

Aerogel prices to drop by 90%? Contractors may embrace the world’s best insulation in homes if a secretive process from Sweden can scale

Svenska Aerogel has devised a process that can convert silica into aerogels at ambient temperatures at low pressures in a continuous (instead of a batch) fashion, according to CEO Anders Lundstrom. “We’re talking a price reduction of about 90 percent,” he said. Along with requiring less energy, the process also lets aerogels take different forms. SA can make aerogel pellets or powders, which in turn opens up markets beyond insulation. Aerogels, for instance, could be added to concrete to make it less susceptible to cracking. Researchers at the company also believe spray-on aerogels will be possible. Another possibility: deploying them in fuel cells to disperse catalysts like platinum more evenly and efficiently on membranes.